Helsinki, Finland.

By: Angela Palacios

Pedagogy and teaching methods are being modernized over time, an example of which is ‘Autokoululiitto’, an association of driving schools that has revolutionized the way driving is learned in Finland.

Foto AFP Jussi Helttunen - Harri Keski-Resilä (7)Currently, 400 driving academies are enrolled in this national association that has been operating for more than 70 years. During this time, Autokoululiitto has been concerned with promoting education development, road safety, schools, and driving instructors training.

Innovation is part of this organization’s mission, which works day after day to improve driving schools. Opetustarvike Oy arises as a teaching management counsel that develops work materials for the digital environment.

Until the end of 2015, driving school theory teaching was complicated because the Finnish Government had a long pedagogical tradition for theory lessons, which meant that anyone who wanted to learn to drive could do the theory part of education only with face-to-face classes.

“Things were done as in the old days, they were a little reluctant to change the methodology. Despite this, State policies were modified, allowing the integration of digital platforms into education,” explains Harri Keski-Rekilä, Training Consultant at Finnish Driving Schools Association/Driving.

In this way, Harri decided to bet on something new and different that would revolutionize learning pedagogy and would also facilitate teaching for all: Blackboard Collaborate. This powerful video conferencing tool has been ideal for developing online management simulations and has also generated revolutionary advances in driving programs, as they allow the user to have greater experience-based learning. 

Why use Blackboard Collaborate?

Harri Keski-Rekilä listed five reasons why this tool has significantly improved the programs of Autokoululiitto driving schools:

  1. No software has to be installed to use it.
  1. The of ease joining a session. There is one link for the teacher and another one for the students.
  1. It is easy to use.
  1. It is improving all the time; it is good to see that it is reinvented every day and updated four times a year.
  1. It is mobile and in Finnish language.

Blackboard Collaborate within everyone’s reach

The possibility of accessing this tool is really simple, since it can be used on all platforms: iPhone, iPad, computer, among others; There are some links to virtual courses and with just a click students connect to classes.

 Some teachers give face-to-face classes and at the same time have students remotely connected through Blackboard Collaborate.

Harri says that “some teachers give face-to-face classes and at the same time have students remotely connected through Blackboard Collaborate.” Which means that there can be 20 people in a classroom and five or seven remotely connected.

Teachers are also trained in innovative ways using various platforms; for that reason, Harri hopes that there will be more tools of this type to continue advancing in virtual courses, because according to him, teachers have improved quite a lot in the use of Blackboard Collaborate, generating an added value to the courses they teach.

“Many things change when we use this platform”

Driving programs at Finnish Driving Schools Association/Driving have developed considerably since they started using Blackboard Collaborate.  In such a short time, 60 driving schools have joined this proposal.

According to Harri, “the trend of adoption of this tool has been mainly for people over 20 years, while younger people still prefer traditional classes.”

Generating a learning culture different from the traditional one is sought, as the 19 hour classes required by the Finnish Government to grant driving licenses are also validated through this video conferencing tool.

“In Finland minimum Basic phase driver training contain 19 hour theory lessons, 18 hour Driving lessons. After that theory test and driving test”.

*Harri Keski-Rekilä, Training consultant at Finnish Driving Schools Association/ Driving.

*Photos by: AFP Jussi Helttunen